Mohawk blockade to raise awareness of missing, murdered Indigenous women

By Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
TYENDINAGA, Ont. – In the bitter cold, a handful of protesters stand around a fire by the side of Shannonville road.

A teepee stands as a landmark and another dozen or so mill around the trucks that block access from both directions.

This is a blockade on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory about two hours east of Toronto.

But it isn’t your typical protest. People here are trying to get a message out about missing and murdered Indigenous women and not themselves.

Unlike in past blockades, the mood here is peaceful.

“We don’t want the message to be about conflict, but about missing and murdered Native girls,” said Shawn Brant, the blockade spokesman and unofficial leader.

Brant wrote Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding a national inquiry. He told APTN Harper had until the end of February to respond but Harper never did.

The Mohawks want a national inquiry into the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The issue is currently being examined by a parliamentary committee where dozens of witnesses went before MP’s over the past year stating that a national inquiry is the only way to get Canadians to pay attention to the astounding number of women and girls who either vanish or are murdered. The committee’s report is due out March 7.

The numbers range from 600 to 3,000 but no one organization in the country is officially collecting data on the issue.

The blockade on Shannonville road, about 20 minutes east of Belleville, Ont., went up around 8:30 p.m Sunday. It is strategically located.

The area is just north of Hwy. 401 which connects Windsor, Ont. to the Quebec border and is considered one of the world’s busiest highways.

In between both entry points of the blockade are CN and CP rail lines but trains continue to move through.

In years past, these blockades have focused on these tracks and have caused battles between protesters, OPP and rail police.

The OPP have tried to talk with the protesters but any discussion to end the blockade has been refuted. Aboriginal liaison officers are said to be on site.

The OPP at one point greatly outnumbered the protesters but numbers have gone down since this morning. Police are stationed at Hwy. 401 exits in the area.

CN and CP are on scene near the rail lines.

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